Five ways to skin an orange

By | 1 October 2015

          I’ve said it before: love is an accidental geometry. You can inherit ways to go through it, or you can create your own, which invariably takes longer.
          Me, Liz, and this room. The cabin smells of wet wood and the lily-heavy perfume of girls toiletries. Liz stretches on the bottom bunk, the slit of her stomach above her shorts, and I say, You’re fleshing out.
          You bitch.
          Outside, the glint from the lake, the water never quite still. I think about the way it doesn’t sting your eyes or burn in your nose when you go under. It’s just cool and slightly earthy, thick with weed. The colour of early night. Footsteps go past under the cabin window, kicking up the smell of pine.
          I lounge against the opposite bunk, drink milk straight from the little square cartons we’ve stolen from the Rec Hall. Each a cube, each coaxed to pout its cardboard beak. Thick, creamy and the taste of the glue along the edges. She gives me the finger and licks it. I throw the carton at her. It hits the frame of the top bunk, covered with pictures and photos, and bursts, spraying her body. The milk transforms from a white brush stroke into a thousand droplets, blossoming on the tanned slope of her shoulders, chest and neck. I crawl towards her and suck on her left shoulder. It’s like putting your head under water and bobbing for apples. Salt of skin and milk in my mouth.

The two women, together, on the road. The road slipping beneath them, tidal, miles on the odometer. Tape in the tape deck, long guitar whine. Dark suburbs with dim streetlamps and glowing motel signs. Back in town, the police bide their time.

I tell the scratchy-faced woman at the motel desk that we’re sisters. We look nothing alike. Liz has bright blonde hair and clear peach-coloured skin and makes it up to my armpit. The woman scrunches up her nose and slides my card across the laminate, towards the machine.
          Where you girls from, then?
          Liz says, Massachusetts.
          I say, Australia. Our Dad was a sailor, you see.
          I put my hand beneath the waistband of Liz’s jeans, part the lace of her underwear from her skin.
          The woman breathes out. Her breath makes a slight whistling over the cracked skin of her lips.
          Room 215.
          Liz grabs the keys and throws the woman a smile. She’s used to people looking at her.
          We pass rooms 1-12 and circle up the concrete stairs, at some point in their lives painted light blue, and then a dull moss green. At the top, a large drinks machine, lit up, humming. Liz grabs my hair, parts her lips and licks the side of my neck, up to my ear. She pushes her hip against me. The machine stutters, then goes back to humming. Below, a car chews up gravel.

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